CHICAGO – Burlington Northern Santa Fe Corp. (BNI), the No. 2 U.S. railroad, reported a 47 percent increase in quarterly earnings on Tuesday as a boom in hauling imports overcame the cost of two big derailments.
The railroad forecast higher earnings in the current quarter, boosted its outlook for the full year, and said it was recovering quickly from track damage on a line connecting coal mines to electric utilities. Its shares rose 1 percent.
Second-quarter earnings rose to $366 million, or 96 cents a share, from $249 million, or 67 cents a share, a year earlier. Analysts had expected 93 cents a share, according to Reuters Estimates. Operating revenue rose almost 17 percent to $3.14 billion, topping the $3.07 billion analysts had expected.
With extensive operations at West Coast ports, Burlington Northern has been a major beneficiary of the surge in imports, carrying goods from Asia on their way to U.S. retailers and manufacturers.
Nevertheless, the railroad hit a bump in the quarter following two major derailments in the Powder River Basin (search), the region in Wyoming and Montana where most U.S. coal is mined. Its partner on the Powder River line, Union Pacific Corp. (UNP), was hit hard by the derailments, though analysts said Burlington Northern was likely hurt less severely.
Freight revenue at Burlington Northern increased 15 percent in the second quarter to a quarterly record of $3.04 billion. The company collected fuel surcharges of $234 million, up from $65 million a year earlier.
Revenue from hauling consumer products rose 19 percent, partly due to double-digit volume increases in international, truckload, auto and perishable sectors.
Industrial products revenue increased 16 percent to $718 million, reflecting strong demand in the building products, petroleum products and construction products sectors.
Agricultural products revenue increased 16 percent to $493 million, boosted by strong corn, soybean and wheat exports to the Pacific Rim countries.
Coal revenue rose 7 percent to $591 million despite operational and maintenance disruptions in the Powder River Basin.
The company forecast third-quarter profit would rise 25 percent to 30 percent from a year earlier.
It forecast full-year earnings of $3.80 to $3.90 per share. Analysts on average had been expecting $3.80 a share, according to Reuters Estimates.
Shares of Burlington Northern rose 50 cents, or 1 percent, to $51.50 on the New York Stock Exchange (search).